Ghetto Grub: A Roundup of Cheap Eats at DLSU’s New and Improved Agno (NAIA)July 20, 2019
When I first found out that Agno—the term both older and younger Lasallians use for the area known for cheap eats and smoking cigarettes—was now called NAIA or the “new and improved Agno,” I had to visit and see what changed. My visit to Fidel Reyes Street one or two years ago reminded me just how long ago my college days were: the stalls that crowded the street’s left side were now enjoying space in a large plaza-like structure. Students now have tables and more tables to sit on, even while it’s raining. Gone was the “ghetto” factor of the tarpaulin shaded stalls and the uneven road that led to your next class. But enough about how old I am; time may transform appearances, but in this cheap eats scene, there are both timeless meals, and new alternatives for students.
You need not spend over a hundred just to have two large pieces of deep fried chicken. Perikon offers three slices of buttermilk fried chicken for just PHP 89 and that price already includes a dip or gravy and rice. They also offer their own version of piri-piri chicken at PHP 85; a bowl containing thick grilled chicken slices and enough rice to balance off that much protein.
2. Pong Kizz Foods
Another important strategy to surviving college and maximizing your allowance: extra carbohydrates, which is why at Pong Kizz Foods, rice is paired with noodles. Pong Kizz Foods gives students quantity and variety by offering baked macaroni, carbonara, Italian spaghetti, or mashed potato with their rice meals. Students tend to love the tried and tested sisig, as well as beef stroganoff and chicken cordon bleu.
3. Subs to Go
It isn’t just about the rice; students can satisfied with sandwiches as lunch meals. At just PHP 79, you can grab ciabatta bread stuffed with otherwise expensive meats like turkey and farmer’s ham, Black Forest and smoked ham, and roast beef and vegetables from Subs to Go. The meal gets even healthier if you add an order of caesar, Thousand Island, or garlic ranch salad at PHP 49; while Japanese sesame salad is slightly more expensive at PHP 59.
4. Los Hermanos
At roughly the same price as Agno’s other meals, Los Hermanos offers healthier alternatives through its combination of non-white rice (brown, red, black, just to name a few); steamed vegetables of broccoli, cabbage, camote, carrots, cauliflower, and sayote, and either grilled chicken, beef, pork, or fish. For a little more flavor, you can add Caesar, honey mustard, or BBQ sauce, and you only spend PHP 79 for a balanced meal.
5. Ate Rica’s Bacsilogan
Most memories of Agno, both old and new, are dominated by Ate Rica’s bacsilog. This killer combination of bacon, eggs and cheese works as a (late) student’s breakfast, a filling lunch during breaks, or even better as a comforting meal after a stressful week. Those who want a little more kick to this timeless favorite can order the spicy version (PHP 65). Ate Rica’s also serves other breakfast meals that include tocilog, chixsilog and nuggetsilog. Their prices start at PHP 30 for sandwiches and reach up to PHP 90 for the rice combos.
6. Caric’s Republic
Another alternative to Ate Rica’s bacsilog is Caric’s. Apart from their breakfast silog meals, lunch options range from chicken parmigiana, pork sisig, beef salpicao, buttered garlic chicken, to curry chicken meals at just PHP 80. The chicken asiago and chicken melt meals top off the fried pieces with decadent creamy cheese sauce.
7. Ged & Bart
Whatever the demographic, Japanese food will always sell when it comes to hungry Filipinos. Ged & Bart serves budget editions of filling Japanese-inspired meals such as beef gyudon, pork katsudon, beef teriyaki and chicken teriyaki at just PHP 80 each. They don’t scrimp on the viand and rice, so your money goes a long way. You can even satisfy that ramen craving at the same price via their seafood, tonkatsu, chicken katsu, and tempura miso ramen options.
8. Green Room
Growing teenagers are more attentive to quantity over quality, which is what makes eateries like the Green Room a godsend. For just PHP 70, you can order one viand or ulam with rice. If you’re making up for lost breakfast, PHP 90 lets you pig out on two ulams and rice. The Green Room’s most popular viands are the chicken savory, and pork sisig.
9. Kooks Grill
This stall’s moniker gives a clue about its specialty: grilled chicken. Other meats are grilled as well, including burger steaks that extend the meal with some baby potatoes. Other items on the menu include pancake with sausage, jumbo hotdog, longganisa, and Brooksdale luncheon meat meals at PHP 70.
10. Potato Giant
Agno’s food isn’t limited to rice and ulam meals. Among Agno’s more commercial brands is Potato Giant, a stall that serves the quick but filling comfort food of most Lasallians: mojos. But aside from this all around favorite snack, its potato varieties also include twister fries (PHP 50), potato wedges (PHP 50), hashbrowns (PHP 30), and even a pizza roll for PHP 49. If carbo loading isn’t on yur agenda, they also serve sandwiches such as bacon french toast and a parmesan chicken sandwich. True to Agno’s promise, the most expensive order just costs PHP 60.
Agno doesn’t just offer all day breakfast meals and Filipino favorites at less than PHP 100. Nostalgia for PHP 50 meals and that gritty “ghetto” factor the old Agno used to have aside, this is probably the only time I’ll say that kids today have it much better compared to my time.